1 Fifteen Years Ago

Be a fierce king with a kind heart. Be a son who I can watch over with pride through the heavens.

Those had been the words his mother had spoken right before she breathed her last. Now she lay broken on the floor, soaking in a pool of her own blood. Murdered right in her own bedroom.

Forever lost.

"Get off me!" Taiyuan screamed and struggled.

The boy had only one digit to his age, yet a group of guards and servants were upon him to hold him down. He barely saw what was happening in the near-darkness. There were shouts of alarm. Of murder. There was the stench of iron mixed with a pleasing, heart-wrenching perfume. And there was him, thrashing next to the corpse of his mother. They grabbed his hands and tried for his legs. Then when they couldn't suppress him they kicked him to the ground. Calm, eerie moonlight streamed through the windows, ignorant to the wails of a son.

He had been a prince. But now they treated him as if he were a wild beast.

The boy cried out when his hands were wrenched behind his back. He tasted dirt from the floor and sand from shoes that forced him down. He was weeping. But soon his tears seethed from grief to rage.

"I said get off me!" He kicked someone hard. When he felt his hands were loosening his body sprung to action like an animal's instinct unleashed.

He was to be king. His ability was trained in every perspective. But nobody taught him how to control his fury. At that moment, it was as if the world was abruptly awash in scarlet hate.

The room piled with fallen bodies when Taiyuan managed to grasp a hold of his senses. He didn't know what he did, didn't know whether or not they were dead because they did not move. His wolf-like eyes shone in panic.

He bolted out of his mother's chamber.

He ran anywhere his feet allowed him in the dark, stumbling over the pavement but never slowed. The summer air blew with overflowing traces of despair. His heart shook with sobs. Taiyuan would have been king someday. And for over anyone else, he wanted to be a good king for his mother.

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But she was gone. And he would never be, if charged with the murder of the Queen.

Alarm rang among the troops as they raced across the courtyard toward the scene. Their torches blazed and flickered like vengeful spirits. He avoided them with his swifter movements until he stumbled on a figure cloaked in black.

Taiyuan froze. He stared in fear as the silhouette stepped out beneath a gnarled ginkgo tree and extended out a hand to him.

"Come here, boy," the figure said.

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